USS Brownson DD-868 (1945-1976)

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The second destroyer by this name, the Gearing-class destroyer was built by the Bethlehem Steel Co. of Staten Island, New York. The USS Brownson was launched on July 7, 1945, conducting shakedown in the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean. She was then put into reduced operational status for six months, resuming her operations during the month of October in 1946. Then, she became a participant in the important Operation High Jump from November of 1946 to April of 1947.

She then spent her summer and fall of 1947 in Newport. During February 1948, the USS Brownson was part of the exercises that were conducted by the Navy’s Second Fleet on the Caribbean Sea. She then joined the Navy’s Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. Following this, the Brownson returned to her docking in Newport, Rhode Island during June of 1948.

She proceeded to spend June to May of 1949 conducting much-needed reserve cruises.  In 1949, she was admitted to Boston’s Naval Shipyard to undergo an extensive overhaul in an effort to modernize her.  This overhaul lasted until March, 1950.  After conducting refresher training on the Caribbean, she made the Midshipman cruise and later participated in fleet exercises out of Newport.

When conducting night operations around Bermuda in November 1950, the Brownson hit the Charles H. Roan, forcing her to go back to Boston for repairs.  In 1951, she rejoined Sixth Fleet operations in the Mediterranean.  The Brownson spent from October 1951 to August 1952 in the waters surrounding Newport.  During the August of 1952, the Brownson traveled to the North Atlantic with America’s Second Fleet for Operation Mainbrace, which was conducted by NATO.  During October of 1952, she was able to rejoin the Navy’s Sixth Fleet in the Caribbean, where the fleet stayed until August 1954.

The USS Brownson departed Newport on August 2, 1954, leaving for a long tour of the Far East with the Navy’s Sixth Fleet.  The USS Brownson cruised through the waters of the Philippines, Japan, and Korea before returning to Newport via the Suez Canal on March 14, 1955. The Brownson was decommissioned in 1976, getting transferred to the North American Smelting Co. and being towed to a salvage yard on June 28, 1977.

Asbestos in Navy Ships

Although an essential component of the naval fleet, especially during World War II, naval destroyers also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.


Naval Historical Center

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